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Ride the Lightening (1984)
Metallica

by Dennis Donahue
Ride the Lightening (1984)

Metallica

Ride the Lightening (1984)

Metallica used to be really good. The hair bands of 1980s L.A. almost ruined metal, but Metallica kept it real, especially with Ride the Lightning, which came on the heels of the success of the band’s first record, Kill’Em All. Released in 1984, this album featured founding members James Hetfield (vocals, guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), Kirk Hammet (lead guitar) and Cliff Burton (bass). Megadeath’s Dave Mustaine did have some writing credits for this release but was no longer with the group.

The record starts off with “Fight Fire with Fire,” a metal masterpiece that surrounds quick guitars with rampant drumming. You can’t get enough of Hetfield’s throaty vocals. “Ride the Lightning” has a great opening riff by Hammet that repeats during the track, segueing nicely into one of their best ever singles, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The guitar work on this song is reminiscent of older Black Sabbath. 

“Fade to Black” slows everything down and showcases some classical guitar and the enormous bass of Burton, while “Trapped under Ice” brings more metal gloom into your speakers. “Creeping Death” is another thrash nugget that is both disturbing and gothic, but, again, the guitars keep it metal.

Metallica have released eight above-average albums, but none are better than the string of classics they recorded before 1992. Bassist Burton was killed on tour in 1986 when the band’s bus crashed; he was replaced by Jason Newsted, who left for personal reasons in 2001. 

Metallica are currently in the studio and plan to release their ninth album this September. (Dennis Donahue)

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